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FAQ's

These Frequently Added Questions may help you get started:   

What is videoconferencing?
Video conferencing is two-way audio and video communication. Imagine using it for interactive teaching, for research collaboration, for meetings with colleagues at a distance, or for sharing your expertise with outside groups. <back>

What specific uses might I have for videoconferencing?
Imagine bringing a guest lecturer from a distant locale into your class without infringing on their time or the huge expense of travel.  Imagine sharing your own expertise in a lecture at Harvard.  You can also consult with outside staff and faculty who share your interests, deliver a keynote, conduct interviews with potential job candidates or students, or take part in organized conferences and other events available over this medium. <back>

How do I get started using Princeton's videoconference facilities?
You might want to look at our Videoconference Rooms page to determine which room is best suited to your needs and whom to contact for each room. You should also be in communication with someone at each remote site to determine the kind of connection needed (Internet or telephone). You will be asked by our technicians to provide the name, phone number, and e-mail address of a technician at the remote site. <back>

How much does it cost?
For course related use, room and personnel charges are waived. To use the rooms at Friend and Wallace and the portable units for non-course related sessions, the University charges are:

- Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - $50.00 flat fee.

- Monday through Friday outside the 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. window. $50.00 flat fee plus $40.00 per hour overtime.

- Weekends - $50.00 flat fee plus $40.00 overtime with a three hour minimum. If a conference is from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday, the charge would be $50.00 + $120.00 = $170.00.

There is no cost to use the Woodrow Wilson School facilities but these are only available to WWS faculty, staff, and students. There is no cost to use the Lewis Library room. <back>

How far in advance must I plan?
Media Services requires at least ten day's notice to prepare for your event. Approval is also dependent upon the availability of technical staff. You are encouraged to book the room at Lewis several days in advance. <back>

Will a technician be present for my videoconference?
A technician will always be present to initiate your conference. Whether the technician remains throughout the session will be dependent upon a number of factors (e.g. special connectivity issues, lead time, etc.). <back>

What if I don't have a web cam, microphone, etc.?
You may request it from Media Services by calling them at 258-3196. <back>

What if I need to connect to more than one other remote site?
You must work with Media Services to establish a multipoint conference. <back>

Are videoconference facilities available to students?
In most cases, students may use Princeton's videoconference facilities but they will require the support of a department in the way of an account number. <back>

Do I need to worry about the compatability of Princeton’s videoconference facilities?
No. All of our systems are standards-based and interoperate with most other systems. <back>

How is the quality of a videoconferencing call?
Quality depends upon the equipment used (at both ends) and the speed of the network connection - i.e.the amount of bandwidth.  The better the equipment and the greater the bandwidth, the better the quality of the conference.  Princeton uses high-end equipment and has high speed network connections. <back>

Can I mix desktop videoconferencing and high-end videoconferencing?
Due to incompatabilities, it is not possible to mix these different styles of videoconferences.

Am I able to record my videoconference?
Yes, you can record a videoconference.

Can we test our connection with the remote site to make sure it works?
Yes.  We encourage such tests. You will work with the designated technician some time before (usually a week or two) before the actual date of your event. <back>

Is it possible to share what I am doing on my computer (e.g. using applications like Word, and PowerPoint) during my video conference?
Yes, though how will vary depending on how you are conferencing. Most desktop videoconferencing applications include the ablity to share your computer's output with little or no extra work. Room and portable units may require some additional collaboration with your technician, so be sure to mention this as you plan. <back>

What tips can you offer to make my videoconference go smoothly?

  • While you shouldn't be nervous, do remember that unconscious behaviors that go unnoticed at a normal meeting can, literally, be amplified when broadcast to another site (e.g. pencil tapping, etc.).
  • You must speak clearly towards the microphone and remember to look towards the camera.
  • If you are planning a video conference with a location that is at a significant distance, time differences will play a huge role in the process. Even e-mails between individuals may, functionally, be delayed a day, causing pre-session preparation to take more time than expected. It may be hard to provide a technician for a session at what would be business hours, say, in Tokyo. Time and Date's World Clock - Time Zone Converter will be of use in determining time differences.
  • There will likely be a delay, so remember to give the person at the other site the opportunity to respond to your question.
  • Keep the phone number of a contact at the other site(s) handy just in case any difficulties arise.
  • Keep some paper and a pen around in case you lose audio connection. You will be able to write a note that may be seen at the other site to alert them to the problem.
  • Dress "conservatively" - solid pastel colors are best. Loud colors (especially red), busy patterns (e.g. thin stripes, houndstooth, etc.), and shiny jewelry are not only distracting, but they can also cause odd effects in the video received on the other end. <back>

Where can I learn more? Pacific Bell's Videoconferencing for Learning web site has been an up-to-date resource since 1995 and contains everything you could possibly want to know about videoconferencing. The Internet2 Consortium is an excellent source of targetted content, as is MAGPI, which sponsors programs for higher education in Arts & Humanities, Math & Science, Health & Medicine, and Social Sciences. <back>

Why don't more people do this?
Good question.  It saves on travel, hotels, and time. It can also bring a world of content to your classroom or office. <back>